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Her Majesty in the Highlands and Islands

Her Majesty the Queen in Islay
Her Majesty the Queen in Islay

There was never any doubt about Her Majesty’s love of the Highlands.

It was written all over her face when she came toured Highland towns.

Meeting her for the first time, people often remarked on that radiant smile, and never was it more genuine than in her beloved Scotland.

The Queen smiling to crowds in Scrabster in August 1974.

“The Queen has been open about her affection for Scotland throughout her reign.

“Generations of her family have enjoyed the beauty of its countryside, and Her Majesty has met Scots from all walks of life during Investitures, Garden Parties and her many visits to the regions,” states the Royal family’s website.

Here we show Her Majesty enjoying the Highlands over the decades, in rarely seen photographs from our archive.


Queen Elizabeth visited Ross and Cromarty on many occasions.

On June 26, 1987, she was in Invergordon with the Duke of Edinburgh.

The High Street was decked in bunting and Union Jacks were hung from windows as  hundreds of cheering, flag-waving townsfolk, and some from farther afield, lined the route to give the visitors a hearty Highland welcome.

The Royal couple delighted the crowds with a 250-yard walkabout to the Town Hall.

Some youngsters go a bit carried away as a group of local Cubs waved their flags right in front of the Duke.

“These children with their lethal weapons,” he joked as he moved aside.

Among the crowds was 82 year old Mrs Effie Allan of Invergordon, whose two-and-a-half-hour was rewarded with a word from the Queen.

“It was a long wait, but well worth it,” said Mrs Allan.

Mrs Jessie Mackintosh (78), also of Invergordon, nursing her arm in a sling, earned the Queen’s sympathy.

“She asked what had happened to my arm. I told her how I broke it and she said she hoped it was healing all right.” Mrs Mackintosh said.

Earlier the Queen and Duke paid a visit to the Royal British Legion’s Hayes Hall, farther down the High Street, and had tea with about 100 elderly and disabled townsfolk, while the choir of Invergordon Academy sang softly in the background.


On her 1964 visit, the Queen visited Golspie Hospital where she received a bouguet from the staff.


Her Majesty  also visited Cromarty that year and received a rapturous welcome from local school children.


It was the same story when she visited Dingwall as part of the same tour.  She appeared on the balcony of the former Town House  with the Duke of Edinburgh and Provost Alex Macrae to acknowledge the crowd’s cheers.


Ten years later, the Queen visited Tain, where she was welcomed with all due pomp and ceremony at the Town Hall.


On that tour, the Queen also visited the Nigg.

She was a relatively frequent visitor to the yard, showing great interest in its output and significance to the region.

Here she meets yard’s medical staff (left) – Sister Shirley Murray, Alness; and Nurses Marion Mackay, Tain; Betty Marshall, Nigg; Jessie Skinner, Inver; Nancy Drever, Tain, and Donella Ross, Inver.

The islands

The Queen’s love of the north extended to the furthest parts of her kingdom, including the islands.

It was a big day on May 9, 1981 when she opened the Sullom Voe terminal.

Years earlier, in 1969, she’d paid a more informal visit to one of the famous Shetland knitwear factories.


This photograph shows Her Majesty’s natural ease with all she met, when she visited Orkney in 1978.

She had altered her annual Western Isles cruise aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia to go further north to visit Kirkwall’s Bignold Park annual county show before moving on to open the new headquarters for Orkney Islands Council.


In 1956 The Queen visited Skye, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh and Princess Margaret.

The visit took in Dunvegan Castle where the Royal party met Flora MacLeod, chief of the Clan MacLeod.

The Outer Hebrides

The Queen and other members of her family found peace, tranquility and discretion when they visited the Outer Hebrides.

They were off-duty and kept things as informal as possible, often coming ashore unexpectedly, picnicking in a sandy bay or visiting crofters to talk cattle and tweed.

In recent years, they chartered the former CalMac ferry-turned luxury cruise ship, Hebridean Princess.

To celebrate her 80th birthday, the Queen embarked at Port Ellen, Islay for her week-long Western Isles cruise.

Not before she had taken time to smile at the crowds of well-wishers who had gathered to see her off.